Psychological and socio-cultural adaptation of Syrian refugees in Turkey

Ayse Safak-Ayvazoglu, Filiz Kunuroglu, Kutlay Yagmur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We studied the psychological and socio-cultural adaptation processes of Syrian refugees in Turkey using semi-structured, face-to-face, in-depth interviews among 15 participants. The study explored the themes and issues emerging in the psychological and socio-cultural adaptation processes such as life-satisfaction, contact with the host community and future plans of Syrian adults. Berry's acculturation model (1997) is used to form the theoretical basis of this research. Our findings revealed that psychological and socio-cultural adaptation of Syrian refugees are strongly influenced by economic concerns, pre-migration expectations, religion and perceptions of Turkish natives' expectations/attitudes towards Syrians. From the perspective of the informants, economic concerns and uncertainty regarding duration of stay have a negative impact on refugees' acculturation, leading to delayed psychological and socio-cultural adaptation. Positive perceptions of Turkish natives' expectations/attitudes towards Syrians are perceived to increase motivation to seek social support, which promotes well-being and life satisfaction in Turkey. Yet, negative perceptions such as prejudice and discrimination, may pose a risk for psychological health and low socio-cultural adaptation. One major finding of the paper is the two-fold impact of religion on Syrian refugees: Religion can be considered a binding/equalizing function subsuming refugee and native groups under a superordinate identity. Nonetheless, it also appears to generate social distance when perceived as a threat to the secular national identity. The findings of this research can be used to minimize factors that undermine favorable acculturation outcomes and promote factors that facilitate high levels of psychological and sociocultural adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-111
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Volume80
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Acculturation outcomes
  • Psychological adaptation
  • Socio-cultural adaptation
  • Syrian refugees
  • Turkey

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